flux you

Okay, enough. Here’s a panel from a cartoon I ran into recently:ohnoHa ha, funny: Yoko Ono – or “Yucko Ohno” OMG I’m pissing myself it’s so clever – broke up the Beatles, and now she’s “pulling apart” cookies. It is of the humor supreme!

First: it’s been nearly forty years – forty years! – since the Beatles broke up, and some morons still haven’t gotten over it. (Some of these morons probably weren’t even born then.) Can we get this straight? Yoko Ono did not break up the Beatles. The Beatles broke up the Beatles.

Before the actual, permanent break-up, both Ringo and George had left for a time. And as anyone who’s seen the movie Let It Be can attest, tensions were running quite high. The band broke up because, unsurprisingly, its members were no longer the same people they were in their teens when they’d gotten together. They’d changed, personally and musically, and clearly needed to separate. The stereotypical (and exaggerated) musical differences between Lennon and McCartney were at their peak, expressed in Lennon’s bitter “How Can You Sleep?” and McCartney’s emotional (some call it sentimental, others call it movingly empathetic) “Dear Friend.” George Harrison was sick of being allowed only two songs on a record – deservedly, as he was on a five-year hot streak of songwriting that would see fruit in his mammoth All Things Must Pass, as well as a couple of the best songs on Abbey Road and a couple of hits he wrote or co-wrote for Ringo (“It Don’t Come Easy” and “Photograph”).

All the Yoko-bashing is worse for being not very subtly sexist and racist as well. If it had been George who’d left first, and he’d done so to collaborate with his buddy Eric Clapton, would there still be “Eric broke up the Beatles” jokes forty years later? There might have been some bitterness and resentment … but it’s okay if a guy breaks up a band. But let a woman do it? God forbid! And a “scary” Japanese woman? Even worse!

For what it’s worth, the Beatles nearly reunited on the Ringo album a few years later (they’re all on it, just never all at once). And John Lennon, in his Playboy interview published in 1980, notes that he and Paul McCartney were both watching Saturday Night Live when Lorne Michaels jokingly offered to pay $3,000 if they’d reunite on the show – an offer they nearly took up on a lark (Lennon said they were too tired to make it to the studio).

If you really want someone to blame – not for breaking up the Beatles but for preventing any reunion – blame Mark David Chapman. Because I think it’s fairly likely that the Anthology sessions would have produced a handful of full-blown reunion tracks … if Chapman hadn’t made that impossible.

But Yoko? No, I don’t think so. But you might be able to blame her for Lennon’s murder … in the sense that Lennon himself has more or less said that she saved his life, that between heroin and post-breakup depression, he might well have not lived past 35. So blame Yoko for being responsible that Lennon was still alive to be killed on December 8, 1980. There – are the Yoko-bashers happy with that?

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2 Comments

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2 responses to “flux you

  1. I agree that there is some latent racism in the meme. Linda was nearly as controlling and she takes none of the heat.

  2. Uh, I don’t really see Linda as having been “controlling” – or Yoko either, really. Yoko took control of Lennon’s business, pretty much, sure…but it’s not as if he was a great businessman. (McCartney likely didn’t need as much help in that department.) Anyway: Linda McCartney gets her own crap flung her way – I mean, “she couldn’t play or sing” might have made some sense in the early days … but funny how those very attributes became a positive virtue in early punk-rock days – and no one was rushing out to re-evaluate Linda McCartney’s seminal contributions to music in her primitivist ways. Incidentally, I’m also a McCartney defender: sure he sometimes put out sugary crap – but you know what, so did Lennon, in their solo careers. None of the four ex-Beatles exactly have records of unmixed success there. But if you take the best songs from their records from say 1970 through about ’75 or so, there’s easily enough to suggest that had there been Beatles during that time, that band would have put out another few strong records. The songs probably would have benefited from the input of the others – but one thing I really should do someday is put together a hypothetical post-Abbey Road Beatles studio album, by selecting the best tracks from the first couple of ex-Beatle solo albums. It would rock, I tell you: rock.

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